This week two Australian researchers won the lg Nobel prize for studying whether being near crocodiles increases risky gambling behavior in people.
The lg Nobel prize is a tongue-in-cheek award, as it is awarded to the most pointless scientific studies in the world. The winners were Central Queensland University professors Nancy Greer and Matthew Rockloff. The duo studied whether punters made riskier choices while gambling on a machine if a crocodile was within one meter of them.
The study was actually conducted in 2010 and was called "Never Smile at a Crocodile: Betting on Electronic Gaming Machines is Intensified by Reptile-Induced Arousal". The scientists studied 103 people playing a gambling game on a laptop. The study started with standard play, then measured after a crocodile tour, and then with a crocodile within one meter of them. The researchers found that behavior was affected if the punter found the arousal to be negative or positive. Negative arousal led to moderate bet sizes, while positive arousal had larger bets.
The two researchers were awarded a trophy as well as $10 trillion in Zimbabwe currency, which is useless.